Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced today that five men have been indicted by a Queens Grand Jury on hate crime charges in the vicious bias-related assault last month on a Sikh man in Richmond Hill, Queens who was punched, kicked and beaten into unconsciousness.

District Attorney Brown said, “Crimes motivated by bias -- particularly those involving violence -- can never be tolerated. Hate crimes do more than threaten the safety and welfare of all citizens. They inflict on victims incalculable physical and emotional damage and tear at the very fabric of free society. Hate crimes intimidate and disrupt entire communities and vitiate the civility that is essential to healthy democratic processes. When they do regrettably occur, they will be vigorously prosecuted and severely punished.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as: (1) Salvatore Maceli, 26, a painter, (2) Nicholas Maceli, 22, a construction worker, and (3) Victor Cosentino, 58, an account manger, all of 31 Ethel Avenue in Valley Stream in Nassau County; (4) Ryan Meehan, 24, of 84-12 127th Avenue in Forest Hills, Queens, a sheet metal worker and (5) Terence Lyons, 53, of 1328 Post Avenue in Elmont in Nassau County, retired. The defendants have been charged in a three-count indictment filed earlier today in Queens Supreme Court with Assault in the Second Degree as a Hate Crime, Assault in the Second Degree and Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree and faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

According to District Attorney Brown, defendants Nicholas and Salvatore Maceli are brothers and Victor Cosentino is their step-father. Defendant Lyons is the uncle of Nicholas and Salvatore Maceli and defendant Meehan is allegedly Nicholas Maceli’s friend.

District Attorney Brown said that the indictment charges that on July 11, 2004 between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m. in the vicinity of 101st Avenue and Lefferts Boulevard in Richmond Hill, Queens the defendants taunted Rajinder Singh Khalsa, 50, and a companion, Gurcharan Singh, 51, both wearing turbans required by the Sikh religion, by calling the turbans “dirty curtains” and demanded that the Sikh complainants remove them from their heads.

The District Attorney said that the indictment also alleges that Rajinder Singh Khalsa was repeatedly punched in the face, knocked to the ground and kicked and then lost consciousness and was later treated at a hospital for multiple contusions, abrasions, swelling and substantial pain to his eye and face.

The District Attorney said that according to the charges a CAT scan revealed that Rajinder Singh Khalsa sustained multiple fractures to the left orbital bone, nasal bone, nasal septum and maxillary sinus.

The defendants were arrested as the result of a joint investigation by the District Attorney’s Anti-Bias Bureau and the New York City Police Department’s Hate Crime Task Force. They remain free on bail ranging from $35,000 to $50,000 and will be arraigned on the indictment in about two weeks.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney George J. Farrugia of the District Attorney’s Anti-Bias Bureau under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Mariela Palomino Herring, Bureau Chief, Robert J. Hanophy, Deputy Bureau Chief, and Charles N. Walsh, Senior Trial Attorney, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for Trials James Clark Quinn.

It should be noted that an indictment is merely an accusation and that defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.


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